Yesterday, I wrote about four posts whom the Washington Wizards should consider as free agent targets, specifically with the mid level exception (MLE). Today, we will go over four more posts whom Washington should consider, even though the chances of getting them aren’t as great.
5. Derrick Favors
Will the New Orleans Pelicans really let Favors go? With Bird rights, they could offer him more than the MLE and top what the Wizards could offer. He brings a solid veteran presence and in a small sample size next to Zion Williamson, that pairing worked well. Favors appears to be a very solid stopgap to continue to play that spot in New Orleans while Jaxson Hayes progresses to the level of a starting center on a team contending for a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.
As stated by The Athletic, “Due to injuries and issues with his family, Favors missed 16 of his first 25 games with New Orleans, and the team struggled mightily to replace what he brought to the lineup. Up until the final game before the new year, New Orleans was 6-2 when he played at least 25 minutes and 5-21 when he didn’t.”
It looks like a max contract will be coming Brandon Ingram’s way this summer, and then something close to it for Lonzo Ball the following summer. There is a slim chance that New Orleans could renounce Favors and use cap space this summer, but I deem it unlikely.
If by chance Favors comes available, the Wizards would likely not be near the top of his preferred list. But, he’s an impact rebounder and defender and he has a ton of playoff experience that would help this team. Injuries are certainly a concern and he’ll be 29 to start next season so there’s risk to signing him.
In reality, it will likely take Sheppard and the front office offering a fully guaranteed third year or even a partially guaranteed 4th year to sign him. Favors seems like a long shot though he’d be a fantastic fit if it comes to fruition.
6. Hassan Whiteside
One would imagine that Whiteside’s reputation and exit from the Miami Heat last season is one that Washington is well aware of and hopes to avoid, but we’ve seen weirder things happen. Portland is in a difficult position with the luxury tax and has Jusuf Nurkic returning next year (along with Zach Collins).
Whiteside protects the rim and rebounds at a very high rate, and as far as an on-court fit, he would work. But there’s been a lot of talk about his stats and impact being somewhat empty and he’s age 31+ to start next year. I’d be surprised if he was given much consideration, but at the MLE for 1-2 years, it could be possible and we’d have to hope that the Wiz would get his best version.
7. Christian Wood
As with many who are also on this list, I don’t see Wood leaving the Detroit Pistons to join the Wizards with the MLE. He seems like just the type of guy that the Pistons will want to retain and they have the financial flexibility to do so with Early Bird rights allowing them to offer just over the MLE.
If they don’t resign him for some reason, his fit with the Wizards wouldn’t be the best. He’d bring a missing athletic component from the 5-spot, with good outside shooting, but there are questions about his defense, though he does have good block and rebound rates this year.
Also to consider, there have been numerous opportunities through the years to bring him in for a look on a non-guaranteed deal or through other methods and he’s never been of interest to Sheppard or the Wizards front office. That could change, but he seems to have found a good landing spot in Detroit and I’d be surprised if that changed.
8. Serge Ibaka
I think Ibaka would be the longest shot of those written about here due to the Toronto Raptors owning his Bird rights and the likelihood that he would re-up with them, especially with Marc Gasol being on his last legs and also being a free agent.
We’ve all seen what Ibaka brings as a great defender, solid offensive player and with his many years of deep playoff experience. His shot-blocking has regressed some and he’ll be 31 to start next year, but he’d be a big upgrade in the middle nevertheless.
Again, Ibaka would likely require a contract that’s too long in length, even on the MLE, for it to be an overall good signing but theoretically, there could be a slim chance of it happening. But it sounds like he is set to stay in Toronto.
Other free agent options
There are additional free agents who may be candidates to sign for likely just a part of the MLE, or even potentially on a minimum deal. Some of them would certainly be considered if the team decides to either split the MLE between a couple of players, or if they leverage the BAE which will be around $3.5M-$4M per year over two years.
Unfortunately, the players that have been listed so far carry questions about their availability. Each of them are quality players and there will be competition for their services. So who else is there for the Wizards to consider? The team could end up picking from the following group of secondary targets:
- Aron Baynes & Marc Gasol would each on their own be quality additions for 2020-2021, but they are ages 34 & 36 respectively next season and each are showing decline in their play. Baynes is more practical than Gasol as the Suns can choose to open up cap space this summer and therefore renounce his cap hold. While either player could help the Wizards next season, they are long shots because of their age. Ian Mahinmi would be a guy who’d fall into this camp as well, and the Wizards should be looking for younger options, but we can’t rule them out.
- Harry Giles III would be an exciting add. The Kings can’t sign him for more than $3.9M due to declining his fourth year option before last season so he’s unrestricted on where to play. Giles isn’t a typical rim protector but moves his feet well and collects a good number of steals for a big. He’s only 22 next season and seemingly has a lot of upside. Is it worth it to take a flyer on him? I think his injury issues may stop it from happening but he’s definitely one to keep an eye on. Chris Boucher is someone who would also be a consideration if they are looking for a high-reward type, but he’s a restricted free agent and Toronto likely wants to keep him. He doesn’t offer a ton offensively but is a quality shot blocker.
- Bismack Biyombo and Alex Len are defense-first centers and they could fit as part of a committee, and they are surprisingly only turning 28 & 27 respectively next year. Neither would be an exciting addition but they’d likely be affordable and there are worse options — Biyombo’s rim protection/switch-ability and Len’s decent rim protection and rebounding could help on that end of the floor if they are brought into the fold. Willie Cauley-Stein and John Henson are other vets who bring either rim protection (Henson) or switch-ability and athleticism from the 5 spot (Cauley-Stein). They shouldn’t be ruled out if other options are off the market.
To sum it all up, there is a robust market of big men that are hitting the free agency market this offseason who could all assist the Wizards as a (hopeful!) playoff team next year. Many think that using a top-10 pick on a center is a poor investment these days so I would predict that a free-agent big man is more likely than through the draft. But please share your thoughts on these free agents and whom you’d like to see in D.C.!